Buying Games from an Operator

Path: spies!sgiblab!!!linac!att!cbnewse!ofoz
From: (steven.s.ozdemir)
Subject: Frequently Asked Questions about Buying Games from an Operator
Organization: AT&T
Distribution: na
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1993 14:42:43 GMT
Message-ID: <>
Keywords: basics to buying video games
Lines: 833
The principal authors of this FAQ were Doug Jefferys <>
and Steve Ozdemir <>. Although we did most of the
writing work ourselves, we couldn't have produced this FAQ without
the help of our loyal reviewers, a few of whom include:
Hedley Rainnie <>
Steve Phillips <>
Jeff Turner <>
If we missed any names in that list (and we probably did), let either
Steve or myself know and we'll put you on the list in the next revision.
We'd also like to take a moment to thank those of you who helped us out
but wished to remain anonymous. Your contributions to this FAQ were
highly valuable to us and will no doubt prove just as valuable to the
readership out there...
To our readers: if you liked this FAQ and found it useful, we'd love to
hear about it. While you are reading feel free to hit "r" and send us
a short note saying if you liked what was in the FAQ and want to see more
FAQs like this. Your comments will help us to improve the FAQ and probably
sow the seeds for the creation of more useful goodies in the future.
Finally, this FAQ was created by volunteers. While we've done the best
that we can to ensure accuracy, some of the information in this FAQ may
not apply equally well to all geographic regions. As with anything on
the .net, your mileage may vary...
----------------------------------cut here---------------------------------
Last Updated: 1 March 1993
Copyright 1993
The authors hereby grant permission to reproduce and distribute this
document for personal use, subject to the condition that the document
(along with any copyright and disclaimer notices) is not modified in
any way.
The opinions expressed within this document are those of the authors only
and not necessarily those of their respective employers.
This FAQ was created to assist beginning and established collectors by
providing useful information about making deals with the current owners
of video games. Because this hobby can involve deals that can be in
the $1000s, the reader is advised to use the following information
This FAQ is provided for informational purposes only. Although the
authors have made every effort to provide accurate information, they
cannot guarantee the accuracy or usefulness of any of the information
contained herein due to the complexity of the issues involved.
The authors take no responsibility for anything arising as a result of
anyone using the information provided in this FAQ, and the reader hereby
absolves the authors of any and all liability arising from any activities
resulting from the use of any information contained herein.
This FAQ is divided into six sections:
SECTION ONE: Where did all the games go?
SECTION TWO: Who's who?
SECTION THREE: Know your operator
SECTION FOUR: Strategies for dealing with operators
SECTION FIVE: Wheeling and Dealing
SECTION SIX: Miscellaneous questions
SECTION ONE: Where did all the games go?
Q: Why can't I find my favourite game anymore?
A: Simple. Your favourite video game doesn't make the operator enough
   money to justify the floor space it takes up. Perhaps you should
   have put more quarters in it when you had the chance.
   Sometimes games are retired due to high repair and maintenance costs
   regardless of their popularity. For example, Missile Command's large
   trackball was known to have problems with pins wearing down, and the
   HV flyback transformer in Tempest's color vector monitor was notorious
   for its high failure rate.
   Regardless of the reason for its retirement, if you want to play,
   it'll be up to you to find your game and buy it. Making this process
   simpler and easier for you was why we wrote this FAQ.
Q: So why couldn't I buy it when it was in the arcade?
A: If you're playing a game on the street, the game is still making money
   for the operator. We'll get into "how much money" in the next question,
   but keep in mind that unless you offer the operator at least three times
   the game's monthly earnings, he won't even consider selling it to you.
Q: What happened to my favourite game while it was at the arcade, and where
   did it go when it left?
A: Here's a rough sketch, based on the authors' experiences, of what the
   first few years of a game's life is like.
   An operator makes money by buying video games for $2500-$3000 and running
   them for several months. Note that there are exceptions: "Hard Drivin'"
   machines, for instance, can cost upwards of $10,000 and will be "run"
   for years...
   After the first week of operation, the operator will probably have
   $200-$400 inside. If a game costs $3200 and the operator gets $200/wk,
   it takes the operator 16 weeks to make back his original investment.
   Anything that comes in after that is pure profit.
   Unless you can offer the operator more than he will make from a machine
   over the next three months or so, you can forget it. This is why you
   never hear of anybody buying new machines from an operator.
   After the operator has been running the game for about 18 months or so,
   the game becomes "old". It doesn't earn much, perhaps only $20-$50/wk
   or so. Since the operator has limited space in the arcade, the game
   will be replaced with a new game when an opportunity arises. The new
   game takes up no more space than the old one, but it earns more MONEY.
   Since the operator doesn't know what to do with the old game, it usually
   gets dragged downstairs or thrown into a warehouse, where it sits unused
   for several years, waiting to be sold, converted, "parted out", or even
   taken off to the dump!
Q: Okay, so it wound up in a warehouse. What happened to it then?
A: The game sat there for some time, waiting to be sold, converted,
   parted out, or dumped.
   Conversion is the process of turning one game into another. Ever
   wonder why you keep seeing the cabinets for some of your old favourites
   with the "wrong game" inside 'em? Conversions are the reason.
   The more specialized the parts for a game are, the less likely they are
   to be converted. The control panel for "Stargate", for instance, has
   zero conversion value. (For those of you who've never seen one, it's
   unique in the video world, containing a two-directional joystick and
   six buttons -- IN ADDITION to the one- and two-player start buttons.
   Moreover, all seven controls were intended to be operated by one at a
   time...) Games with such proprietary hardware schemes such as this
   are likely to sit more or less intact until sold or dumped.
   At the other end of the scale are JAMMA-based games, in which only the
   game logic needs to be changed; the controls and other hardware are
   completely interchangeable. These games are almost always converted
   quickly and re-introduced to circulation.
   The longer a game sits in a warehouse, the more likely it is that parts
   of it will disappear, either for use in repairs ("parting out") or for
   use in other conversions. As the game's earning potential approaches
   zero, or as a lot of its parts disappear, it'll eventually wind up in
   the dumpster.
   Not all of this news is bad news, though. When a game gets converted,
   for instance, its boards are often left over afterwards. This is why
   warehouses can be a good source for boards as well as complete games.
   We'll get into the risks and rewards of buying boards later on in the
   FAQ. For now, let's stick to the sale of complete games.
   The sale of a game can take two forms:
   The games are sometimes taken to auctions and sold to the general public.
   The "general public" includes other operators (who might have fewer games
   in their arcades and still want the game), or collectors (who often attend
   auctions and buy games there). See the Auctions FAQ for details.
   The games can also be sold to collectors who manage to get into the
   warehouse. Getting you into that warehouse, and informing you on what
   to do when you get there, is the goal of this FAQ - How to Buy from an
   If the game is not sold and the warehouse is full, the operator will,
   without a moment's hesitation, throw the old game into the dumpster
   in order to make room for newer retirees.
   Again, the MONEY principle is at work. Newer retirees are more likely to
   command a higher price (more MONEY) when sold, and the operator doesn't
   want to spend MONEY on buying more warehouse space. You will hear more
   about the MONEY principle later.
SECTION TWO: Who's who?
Q: Who are distributors? What do they do?
A: Distributors sell new (occasionally used) games from manufacturers to
   operators. Some distributors also perform repair, reconditioning, and
   conversion work for operators.
Q: Who are operators? What do they do?
A: Anyone who owns a video game and makes money off it is an operator. The
   guy who runs your local arcade is an operator. The owner of the company
   which puts games at "locations" such as your corner store is also an
   operator. Even the people who run "Starcade" at Disneyland are operators.
   Operators operate their games at locations to make MONEY.
Q: Now that I know the difference between operators and distributors, where
   should I go to buy my games?
A: Keep in mind that operators consider collectors as small potatoes.
   They consequently dislike dealing with collectors, and tend to avoid
   it wherever possible.
   If an operator is unwilling to deal with you because he considers you
   to be small potatoes, the distributor (who often considers some
   *OPERATORS* to be small potatoes) is going to be even less amenable
   to dealing.
   It is possible to deal with a distributor, but it's *rare*, and since the
   techniques used for dealing with operators and distributors are roughly
   the same, the remainder of this FAQ will concern itself with dealing with
Q: Who are the collectors? (Okay, we are... so what do *WE* do?)
A: The short answer is -- *WE* are! What we do should be obvious -- we
   collect video games. Different collectors tend to have different
   objectives. There are three general classes of collectors out there,
   and they are as follows:
   - Beginning collectors who own one or two games and are looking to
     expand. This category also includes the people who have yet to start
     their collections. Although we discuss auctions in a separate FAQ,
     we highly recommend them as a way to get started in the hobby; even
     if you don't buy anything at an auction, you'll at least get a feel
     for the state of the market in your area. And they can be great
     places to meet fellow collectors.
   - Intermediate collectors who own between three to six machines and have
     probably converted at least one cabinet to play more than one game.
     Auctions and get-togethers for bulk buys are common ways of getting
     games at this stage.
   - Serious collectors who own more than six machines and have converted
     several cabinets. Serious collectors are often starting small
     inventories of parts, and they probably sell at least some of the
     games they fix. Most serious collectors acquire their wares through
     bulk buys with operators.
   Remember that these are only generalizations. In your travels, you
   will likely encounter people who fit into more than one of these
   categories. You may also encounter people who fit into none of these
   categories. This hobby is *ABOUT* video games, but it is *NOT* a video
   game in and of itself -- it doesn't matter what "level" you're working
   at, so long as you're enjoying yourself.
SECTION THREE: Know your operator
Q: What makes operators tick?
A: Very simply. In fact, one word will suffice.
Q: So this is the MONEY principle, right?
A: Right. The MONEY principle is simple: OPERATORS LOVE MONEY.
   It's a simple rule, but its importance cannot be overstated. MONEY gets
   you in the door, MONEY talks to the operator, MONEY pays your way when
   you're inside, and MONEY can even help you get your favourite game away
   from the operator at the lowest price possible. The strategy section of
   this FAQ will describe all of this (and more) in detail.
   Operators own games for one reason - to make MONEY. If operators were
   allowed to run porno shows on their games in order to collect quarters,
   they'd do it. Operators are not interested in the art of game design.
   They are not interested in the impact that these games have had upon
   society. And they are certainly not interested in packaging up the
   boards for your favourite game and sending it halfway across the
   country - not for you or anyone else.
   Not when he can make several
   times as much money by sitting back and letting players pump quarters
   into his games.
   Read that sentence again.
   You and I, however, only want to wrestle our favourite games away from
   these "operators". So how do we do it?
   Suffice it to say that whatever the answer is, it lies in MONEY. This
   should be kept in mind as you read the remainder of this FAQ, and should
   be foremost in your mind whenever you deal with an operator.
Q: How do I contact an operator?
A: If you wish to use the phone, you can get phone numbers from the following
   - The "Amusement Devices" and "Vending Machines" sections of your
     Yellow Pages directory is the best place to start.
   - See those stickers on games which read something like "For service,
     call 555-5555". Call one of these numbers and see who answers.
   - The sides of trucks seen at auctions sometimes have phone numbers
     and company logos written on them.
   - Go to an auction and put up a posting saying "MONEY FOR JUNK" with your
     phone number on it. It can sometimes work wonders.
   - Replay magazine often has useful contact information. To order a single
     copy, send $5.00 for a "Sample Copy" to:
                  Replay Magazine
                  PO BOX 2550
                  Woodland Hills, CA
   If you're physically present at the arcade, start working your way up
   through the ranks. Start with the person behind the coin counter or
   a technician. These "front line" people can give you information on
   what's sitting down in the basement, and may be able to set you up
   with the arcade manager.
   Often a combined approach (visit an arcade, ask a few questions, get a
   phone number, go home and call the next day) is the most effective.
Q: Okay, I've got the phone number, but I still don't seem to be getting
   anywhere. What's going on and how can I do better?
A: Getting the phone number is only half the battle. The whole organization
   of receptionists, technicians and arcade managers is set up to prevent
   people from talking to the operator.
   The reason for this is that *ANYTHING* the operator could be doing would
   earn him more money than dealing with a collector who is only likely to
   spend $100-200. For example, the average operator can take in just as
   much money in a SINGLE DAY by leaving his phone off the hook and letting
   people pump quarters into a row of Mortal Kombat machines...
   If you are in an arcade, keep in mind that (in most cases) only the
   operator has the authority to sell you a video game. The arcade managers
   and technicians generally do not. Although these people are often
   valuable sources of information, you'll usually have to keep working
   at it until you reach the "man at the top".
   One last note. OPERATORS NEVER RETURN PHONE CALLS. (Well, maybe not
   "NEVER", but trust us, it's rare...) So if you manage to talk to one
   and want to continue dealing, you have to take the initiative.
   Some operators have also become "jaded" through deals with beginning
   collectors that never spent much money, expected perfectly-working
   games, and always wanted warranties. If this is the case for your
   operator, expect considerable difficulty in overcoming his prejudices
   if you wish to deal effectively. Sometimes there's just no winning,
   and you're best off trying your luck elsewhere.
SECTION FOUR: Strategies for dealing with operators
Q: I've made contact! What do I say I'm looking for?
A: Don't be overly specific. Telling an operator that you are "looking
   for Battlezone" simply tells the operator that he can ask any price
   he wants for it - thereby making more MONEY. This is a case of the
   MONEY principle working against you.
   On the other hand, if the operator has no interest in the collector's
   desired item, the collector can often buy it for next to nothing. The
   of doing this is by including desirable items in bulk buys. Indicate
   interest in "oh, some old Atari boards", then buy a pile of them, even
   if half of them are for games you don't really want. The Battlezone
   board will be much cheaper as a result, and you can probably use the
   rest of the boards for parts at a later time.
   The MONEY principle can also be used to your advantage. If you casually
   mention that you're willing to "clear out some space" for him by "taking
   some old games off his hands", you can improve your chances.
   After all, the operator is only going to be throwing the junk away in
   a couple of years. If he sees that he can save on storage or disposal
   costs by selling you something, you're in business. He makes MONEY
   from the sale, and he saves MONEY by letting you take the games off
   his premises.
   The higher the potential for making MONEY, the more eager he will be
   to deal with you. Bulk buys (where you state that you're willing to
   buy three or more games, for instance), are especially attractive.
   Making purchases with cash sweetens the deal still further. He can
   see the MONEY right in front of his face, and he'll want to get his
   hands on it.
   The key is to convince the operator that he wants to sell you the
   goods. Ask him how much it costs to rent/heat the warehouse. Does
   he have space problems? Wouldn't it be nice if a dozen machines
   which he'll never operate again disappeared and several hundred
   dollars CASH appeared in their place? (A hint: emphasize the word
   "CASH", should you elect to bring this question to your operator's
   Ask him why he still has those ancient vector monitors around anymore.
   Ask him if he even has any machines out that could use the parts sitting
   in the pile in the corner. Why pay to keep a batch of Defender boards
   when all your Defender cabinets have been converted to other games or
   scrapped? (A hint: make sure he tells you what is useful *BEFORE* you
   start rummaging through boards, otherwise his list of useful boards may
   grow during your conversation...)
   The whole idea behind this line of questioning is "Mr. Operator, why
   don't you let me take these parts/machines that will not make you any
   MONEY (and which will never be used to repair anything that makes MONEY,
   and which cost MONEY to store or dispose of) off your hands. I'm even
   willing to PAY YOU MONEY for the privilege of doing you this favour..."
   Once you explain things that way (and especially if you suggest a bulk
   buy), you should end up getting a great price. Generally, since you
   can select what to take, about 50% to 75% of the stuff you take will
   be useful or valuable to you. The rest of it will probably be useful
   or valuable to the other serious collectors on the net, so you can
   actually make some money yourself!
   The only problem you will encounter is that you have a VERY LIMITED
   TIME to select all the stuff you will haul off; this is discussed in
   another question.
Q: I'm in the warehouse. What now?
A: Remember those old contests where the "prize" is "a one minute shopping
   spree"? That's what you do. You hurry. Time is MONEY in the video
   game business, and you should know by now what MONEY means to an
   operator. Since collectors rarely have much MONEY and are often
   shunned by operators, if you've managed to get this far, you probably
   won't get a second chance.
   For instance, if you go to an operator and spend an hour and a half
   rummaging through old boards and play-testing half of the machines in
   the warehouse, take down some prices and then leave, the operator will
   probably feel that he didn't get enough MONEY for the time he lost in
   dealing with you. As a result, you will probably not be welcomed back
   for a second visit, even if you *DO* intend to buy this time.
   (To give you an idea of what *WILL* make a visit "worth it" to an
    operator, about the only times we've heard of collectors having been
    invited back for a second visit is when they'd purchased over $1500
    worth of goods...)
   Keep this in mind as you "power-shop". You will NOT be coming back
   for the things that *YOU* forgot, let alone to pick up something for
   somebody else. You have only one chance to pull out as much as you
   can, and you have to do so AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
Q: I've made a deal! Now how should I pay for what I bought?
A: This is a simple question. Since cash is about the only form of money
   that operators will accept, you've really got no choice!
   The reason for this is that operators don't have the time or inclination
   to worry about things like bounced cheques or credit cards. Cash is
   simple, direct, *VERY* easy to handle, and gets to the point.
   Cash is good. It helps the MONEY principle work for you, rather than
   against you. Bring plenty of cash with you when you meet with an
   operator, and make sure that it's visible. A fat wad of twenties in
   your shirt pocket is probably as good a bargaining tool as any strategy
   mentioned in this FAQ.
SECTION FIVE: Wheeling and Dealing
Q: Which games are most worth buying?
A: This is a tough question. The economics of supply and demand determine
   what is worth buying and how much it should cost. Both change often, but
   a good guide to what was in demand recently is the VAPS membership list.
   If it's popular with VAPS members, odds are it'll be popular among other
   collectors too. Ranges of sample prices have also been sprinkled
   throughout the text of this FAQ and can be used as guides to help you
   in your dealings. (Keep in mind these prices will eventually go out of
   date as the FAQ gets older...)
Q: What parts will be the most useful to me if I (like most people) don't
   have much money or space?
A: Go for monitors, boards, and control panels. Cabinets are large, heavy,
   and difficult to keep around. For the same reasons, and due to their
   high shipping costs, they're also hard to sell to other people.
   If you're buying in bulk, get as many monitors, boards, and control
   panels as you can. Here's why.
   - If you trade equipment with other collectors, you get the first pick
     from the bulk deal and can keep the best stuff for yourself. This is
     the main reason why anyone deals in bulk board buys in the first place.
   - It's much easier to throw in a new board set and control panel on a
     game than it is to rewire a whole cabinet. See the Conversion FAQ for
     more details.
   - Boards, being worthless to most operators, tend to be cheap.
   - You can sell most, if not all of your goods, on the net at a later
     date. This helps your hobby pay for itself and also helps others
     (who may not have the time nor the inclination to do a bulk buy)
     to get the parts for the games they want.
   - You can use extra goodies as a source of spare parts for your games.
     Control panels are especially useful in this regard.
   - If you're dealing in non-working equipment, remember the adage about
     spare parts - "the more, the merrier". Even if you're the type who
     likes to program with a soldering iron, you'll want spare parts to
     swap in and out during the repair process.
   - A control panel and related boards occupy much less space than a
     complete cabinet. This fact will become increasingly important as
     your hobby of collecting games evolves, as you will rapidly run out
     of space for more cabinets.
   - If you're buying JAMMA-compatible hardware, you don't *NEED* anything
     more than the board, since "one cabinet fits all". See the question
     on building your own cabinet for more information.
   - If you're buying for friends, or are far away from home, you cut down
     drastically on shipping costs. See the section on shipping costs for
     details. Compare the volume and mass of a control panel and boards
     with its cabinet. Which would *YOU* rather carry for 500 miles?
   - You avoid the horrible situation of the operator/distributor throwing
     the boards away when you aren't there. The next collector arrives and
     hears "oh, sorry, we threw a whole bunch of those out last month".
     (If collectors got paid a quarter for every time they heard this line,
      they'd soon have more money than the operators...)
Q: What risks are there associated with dealing in spare parts? What
   should I know about buying or selling boards?
A: When buying from an operator, try to resist the temptation to test the
   goods. If a board set is gathering dust in a corner, both you and the
   operator can safely assume it isn't working. On the other hand, if you
   power up a board set and it *DOES* work, you've just told the operator
   that the board set is worth something. Something called MONEY. Something
   you could still have in your pocket had you bought the board set as
   "broken" and tested it at home.
   Once you've gotten your parts home, test them out. If they don't work,
   don't worry. If you have some knowledge of electronics, you may be able
   to fix them. Even if you can't, broken boards can still be sold on the
   net -- there *ARE* people out there who can fix them, so they're still
   worth having.
   If you're really worried about the condition of the boards and are
   willing to pay extra for working boards, you can still ask for testing,
   but keep in mind that if you're dealing in large quantities of boards,
   even the friendliest operator will not have time to test them all. You
   will therefore still be buying boards of unknown condition. They may
   not work even if the operator says they will. Moreover, you are buying
   "as is". If the operator isn't going to let you back in *BUY* a second
   time, do you really think he'll give you a refund on something that
   doesn't work?
   If you intend to sell extra boards on the net, we recommend that you
   start small in order to get a taste of all the hassles associated with
   just breaking even. For instance, everyone will want advice on how to
   hook up the game, and nobody will want to pay for shipping or handling.
   You may also have to deal with bouncing cheques and/or COD shipment
   The point is that this isn't a money-making business. If you could make
   a killing in the "used boards" market, we wouldn't need this FAQ. The
   operators would be selling used boards by the dozen right in the arcades.
   On the other hand, don't let this scare you. The authors of this FAQ
   who have done board deals in the past have always found *SOME* use for
   most of the goodies they've picked up. Keep your wits about you, use
   common sense, and you probably won't go wrong.
Q: I want to deal in whole games. What is a reasonable price for a game
   and/or its components?
A: EVERYTHING depends on where you live, but here is a general guide:
   - Once a game stops earning enough money to justify its floor space, its
     boards are generally worthless to an operator. These games have no
     real value except in terms of what they can be converted into.
     Consequently boards that are more than three years old should go
     for $10-20 apiece if you buy them in bulk.
   - Raster monitors go for $50-100 because operators can reuse them in other
     games. Although the required horizontal sync frequency can differ from
     manufacturer to manufacturer, the required changes to the monitor's
     circuitry are minor. Operators' technicians can perform these changes
     and thereby reuse the monitor.
   - Vector monitors, on the other hand, are practically worthless. Very
     few operators these days feel they can make money from these old vector
     games. Furthermore, since vector monitors operate on different
     principles than raster monitors, nothing on such a monitor is reusable.
     The only value a vector monitor has is its rarity -- operators know that
     collectors want these monitors, and consequently they tend to go for
     $25-50 apiece in bulk deals.
   - Older games (those over five years old) go for $150 to $300.
   - Newer games (between one and five years old) are worth up to $1500.
   - Brand new games can cost up to $3000.
   Note that rare games are an exception. Operators know which games are
   rare and which games are popular. Unless you are making a *VERY* large
   bulk buy (20 games or more), the operator will demand more for these
Q: So now that you've said all that, what should I buy? Tell me quickly,
   because I'm in the warehouse now and only have about 15 minutes or so
   in which to make up my mind!
A: The moral of the story is:
   - Scarf any old boards you can find.
   - Scarf any vector monitors you can find, especially if you are interested
     in this type of game and are willing to buy or store spare parts. These
     parts are becoming rarer by the day!
   - Scarf any control panels of games you'd like to have, even if the board
     sets aren't there. This is particularly important in the case of rare
     or classic games. If you intend to become a serious collector, scarfing
     control panels of games is a *MUST*!
   - Be wary of buying raster monitors, especially if the monitors are new.
     Ask yourself why the operator is willing to give you a perfectly good
     monitor if he can put it into his next conversion, thereby saving
     himself $50-100?
Q: How much does it cost to ship a video game?
A: Shipping a game costs $150 as a *MINIMUM*, and upwards of $300 if you
   want a reputable company to do it. When people find out that their
   $200 game is going to cost $300 to ship, they buy locally. 80-90% of
   all games traded on the net are bought and sold within a two-hour drive
   of the location of the game.
   If you're buying for a friend, make sure they're willing to pay these
   costs. Otherwise you'll wind up with what they didn't want to pay
   to ship -- and what you probably didn't want in the first place (since
   you were willing to sell and ship it to them in the first place).
   If you want to ship the game yourself, the best method is to use a
   trailer. Trailers cost about $20 to rent, plus the cost of your gas,
   and unless you own a pickup truck, they are by far the cheapest way
   to move a video game.
   A used trailer will cost about $300 and will probably be the most useful
   item in a serious collector's inventory. (The second most useful item,
   by the way, is an "appliance-moving dolly" or "refrigerator dolly"...)
   Always keep in mind that boards, monitors, and control panels can be
   carried in the back seat of your car, so shipping costs are equal to
   the cost of gas and a few hours of your time.
   Also, keep in mind that shipping can be rough on old games. Expect to
   perform some minor repair work if your game has to be carried over long
SECTION SIX: Miscellaneous questions
Q: Why hasn't anybody started a "locator service" on the net? Why won't
   people buy games on my behalf?
A: Consider the following sequence of steps, all of which would be required
   were such a service to be set up.
   1) Find an operator who's willing to deal.
   2) Get a price on a video game from the operator.
   3) Advertise on the net through the locator service.
   4) Get a reply via e-mail.
   5) Buy the game from the operator.
   6) Work out shipping and handling through the net.
   7) Ship.
   From the middleman's perspective:
   Notice that two visits to the operator are required. If operators tend
   to avoid collectors (because there isn't enough MONEY to make it worth
   their while), what are the chances that our prospective middleman is
   going to get a second visit with the operator?
   If a dozen other people on the net manage to find the game at the same
   time, what are the chances that you (the person making the buy) will be
   the one lucky enough to make the sale? Not very good.
   You will either have wasted the operator's time (because you didn't buy
   the game) and you can forget about dealing with that operator again, or
   you will be the proud owner of a game which you didn't want in the first
   place. (Let's face it, if you wanted the game, you would have bought it
   for yourself and not offered to sell it...)
   From the end buyer's perspective:
   Wait. I only wanted *ONE* game. Now I've got 10 people who want to sell
   me the same game and I can only buy one. That means 9 people who won't
   be very eager to deal with me through the net again because I just cost
   them their contact with their local operator. And I've also gotta pay
   shipping and handling (upwards of $150-200) for a game of unknown quality
   I suppose I could have asked the sellers to send me a picture of the game
   through the (snail) mail first. But that would have cost more money,
   taken more time, and annoyed more operators. Again, more people unlikely
   to deal with me... (to say nothing of the fact that most of the pictures
   were taken in dark warehouses and I couldn't even see the game...)
   From the net's perspective:
   The problem with locator lists is that not all copies of the list can be
   updated simultaneously. The end buyer may forget to take the game off
   the list - then someone else on the list find the game and get stuck
   with it. Often times, the end buyer will forget to include the cost of
   shipping into their calculations - and back out of a deal upon discovering
   that the cost of shipping exceeds the cost of the game itself.
Q: If "bigger is better", why doesn't the net organize group trips to
A: Group trips are good ideas in theory, but in practice they turn out to
   be very complicated. If you've ever organized a social gathering of
   net.acquaintances (even if only from your local area), you already
   know what we mean. Now imagine how hard it is to get six different
   people to show up from halfway across the country at a predetermined
   spot - ON TIME - in order to go to the one and only meeting with the
   Even if everybody makes it there on time, if all six people try striking
   separate deals with the operator, they'll wind up taking too much of his
   time and the deals will fall through.
   If you *DO* manage to organize a group visit, it's a very good idea to
   make up a joint "grocery list" BEFOREHAND. Everyone involved must be
   prepared to contribute a certain amount of money for a given game; once
   this is decided upon, you can all visit the warehouse and offer ONE
   Haggling over individual games during a bulk buy is a very poor way to
   conduct business. The "one-price-takes-all" strategy will save the
   operator's time, thereby increasing the chances that you'll be allowed
   back at some future date - and will also likely result in a better price
   for the buyers.
Q: Can I build my own cabinet?
A: Yes, but don't expect to save money by doing so. It's somewhat cheaper
   than shipping a cabinet, but it's very time-consuming and the results
   depend entirely on one's carpentry skills. One of the authors has tried
   it -- it cost about $125 and took about three weeks. None of the authors
   have heard about anyone else attempting this feat.
   There may be an advantage to building your own cabinet it you have an
   interest in JAMMA-based games. For JAMMA aficionados, a huge cabinet
   capable of holding 10-20 boards would be of considerable value.
Q: Anything else I should know?
A: Connections and reputations are the key to this hobby. For example, if
   you develop a reputation for being cheap (by buying only things you
   really need and when the pieces are in good condition), you won't be
   invited to go on all the bulk buys because you won't be buying much if
   the warehouse is a dud. On the other hand, you'll always be invited to
   go on the really high-quality buys, because the other collectors will
   know you're likely to buy a lot.
   Keep in mind that you can develop both your reputation and contacts any
   way you like. The collecting community is NOT an "old-boys" network.
   If you develop a lot of contacts, you'll have a reputation that'll get
   you more connections, and so on...

Back a page


Phone: +1 ‪(973) 400-9110‬  


Email us